Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.
writes from Trinity College, Dublin, on Friday, December 24,
I AM writing an article for Trinity News, the Trinity College student newspaper, regarding the cancellation of the lecture you were due to give in University College Cork. I was hoping to get your reaction to the violence provoked by the anticipated lecture.
I was also hoping to find out the problems in the past with speaking at Trinity in particular and to find out whether you expect to speak at Trinity, or any other Irish university in the foreseeable future. I realise that this is a busy time of year. The piece is not due until early January. It would be much appreciated if you could spare the time to reply.
I used to speak quite regularly at universities around the U.K. and world, but the traditional enemies of free speech, who were out in great numbers during the troubles in Cork on November 14, have found ways of preventing this in recent years. There was one month about three years ago when I was due to speak at UCC, Galway and your own esteemed college, and each invitation was eventually crushed by threats of violence.
I have spoken at your Trinity College Lit & Deb. on several occasions -- on one memorable debating occasion with Lord Longford, when I produced one of Hitler's spoons, to establish that it was of regulation length and not at all of the length one would normally associate with Eating with the Devil. I myself am not intimidated by violence, and if this is my opponents' only answer to my reasoned arguments, then they show themselves up for what they are. If any college wishes to hear me speak, or of any students wish to organize something privately, then I will come over at a moment's notice: in the latter case, at my own expense.
P.s.: my late father, a naval officer, was married on 18 November 1921 in Rushbrooke, County Cork; he used to tell me he carried a gun in his back pocket at the wedding because of the troubles. I hope the Irish won't hold that against me.
P.p.s.: if I have another daughter (I had five so far) I intend to call her Rebecca. Don't make me change my mind!